The polka dot plant life span is usually short and polka dot plants of the Acanthaceae family do not grow for more than two years, so you may need to change or propagate your polka regularly.
These Hypoestes genus plants usually start dying after flowering, so you need to practice conscientious plant care when they produce flowers. Continue reading to learn everything that you need to know about them and their lifespan.
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- What Is the Average Lifespan of Polka Dot Plants?
- How Can You Extend a Polka Dot Plant’s Lifespan?
- What is the Lifecycle of Polka Dot Plants?
- Why Do Polka Dot Plants Have a Short Lifespan?
What Is the Average Lifespan of Polka Dot Plants?
It is possible to extend the lifespan of polka dots, but the plants will still not grow over two years. The only way to grow polka dots as perennial plants is by growing them in their natural habitat. In the tropical habitats of Madagascar, These plants wake up after a period of dormancy in the cold season. They also easily propagate themselves.
However, the plants do not wake up in temperate winters, especially when you do not care for them. This means that so long as you are growing the plants in temperate places and do not want to actively regulate your home temperature and humidity, the polka dot plants will die in less than two years.
How Can You Extend a Polka Dot Plant’s Lifespan?
You can extend the lifespan of polka dot plants by growing them in the right conditions and then pruning their flowers immediately after you see them. The point is to grow your already-mature polka as if it is still a young plant.
– Always Prune the Flowers
Your polka dot plants start dying after flowering, so you can extend their lifespan by removing the flowers immediately after they start growing. Do not leave a flower to stay on the plant for more than one day so that the plant does not start seed production. Polka dot flowers may be beautiful, but you do not want them for long if your purpose is to extend their lifespan.
While pruning the flowers, you can use your hands to pull them off. If you want to use a scissor or any other tool, please ensure that the tool is very clean so that you do not expose your plants to microbial attacks.
– Grow Indoors
The thing about indoor plants is that they enjoy the best growing conditions, as the temperature and humidity are more stable when compared to their outdoor levels. Polka dot plant indoors have a longer lifespan than their outdoor neighbor because the temperature indoors is significantly higher than the outside temperature in winter.
Polka dot plants go into dormancy or die in winter. To prevent this from happening, you need to grow your plant in a place with relatively high and stable temperatures. One of the cheapest ways to achieve this is by growing the plants indoors.
– Maintain Warm Temperatures
Always remember that the main way to extend your polka dot plant’s lifespan is by growing it at the ideal temperature. Grow your polka dots at 60 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit or slightly higher if you want them to continue growing. Even in winter, the temperature should stay high and stable. You can maintain warm temperatures by growing your plants in a controlled greenhouse, indoors, or in any place with warm temperatures.
– Maintain a Humid Room
Humidity is another key factor that you must regulate if you want to extend the lifespan of your plant. Humidity helps your polka dots to regulate their water intake and transpiration and humidity levels start reducing as winter approaches.
You should keep your polka dot plants in a room with an average and stable humidity level if you want the plants to survive the winter.
– Consider Other Growing Conditions
Other growing conditions that you should consider to help extend your polka dot lifespan are:
- Light: Ensure that your plants are exposed to direct sunlight for six hours at least. If you are growing them indoors, grow them near your windows.
- Nutrients: Feed your outdoor polka dots monthly. The indoor plants should be fed every week or two. You can use a general-purpose fertilizer for the plants.
- Water: Just make sure that the soil is never dry but consistently moist. Water them as soon as you see that the soil surface is dry.
- USDA: Grow your polka dot plants in USDA hardiness zones 3-10. The warmer the region, the better for the plant. Note that polka dots growing in zones 8-10 have better chances of living for more than two years.
- Pest control: Prevent common pests such as aphids, spider mites, beetles, and others from eating your polka dot leaves.
– Overwinter Your Outdoor Plants Indoors
Even though indoor plants live longer than those growing outdoors, you can still extend the life of the outdoor polkas. All you need to do is to bring your outdoor plants indoors. Do not leave them outside when winter comes because they will most likely not recover from their period of dormancy in winter.
– Propagate the Plants Before They Die
Well, you cannot extend the lifespan of polka dot plants forever. This means that you need to have a plan B when the plants start dying. This is why you should think of propagating your polka dots. The easiest way to propagate this plant is by planting its fertile seed seeds. Well, if you do not want to go through that process, you can use the stem cuttings for your polka dot plant propagation.
If you want to use polka dot stem cuttings, ensure that you get one that is at least 6 inches tall. Also, it must have produced leaves before so that you can be sure that it can produce leaves again. Take note of the bottom and top of the cutting and plant only the bottom part in the soil.
What is the Lifecycle of Polka Dot Plants?
The lifecycle of polka dot plants includes germination, the vegetative phase, flowering, seed production, and death. When you are growing these plants in the right conditions, you will witness these phases in the life of your plants. Remember that ultimately there is nothing you can do to stop this.
– Planting and Germination
As soon as you plant the seeds or stem cutting (from propagation) of your polka dots in early spring, the plant starts growing. “Germination” refers to when the embryo starts growing from the seed. You can tell that a seed has successfully germinated when you see the plant leaves (called cotyledons) growing from the soil.
As for propagated plants, the cuttings first produce little shoots of roots. In a few weeks after planting, the stem cutting will produce leaves. These leaves are different from cotyledons as “cotyledon” refers to the first leaves of plants. Cotyledons do not look like other leaves as they are not true leaves.
– Vegetative Phase
The vegetative phase happens some weeks after the polka dots successfully germinate. In this phase, the plants spend most of their energy producing leaves and petioles. They also grow and thicken their stems. This means that the “vegetative phase” refers to the active growth of plants.
When you grow polka dot plants for their beauty, the vegetative phase is the phase that should be of the most interest to you. The plant produces more leaves with different patterns of dots. This is the phase of the plant that you can show to your friends and family.
– Flowing and Seed Production
In the late summer months, Hypoestes phyllostachya and other polka dot plants start producing flowers. Their non-showy and pink or blue flowers are terminal and spike-like. The flowers may be beautiful, but they indicate that your plants are mature enough to produce seeds and will soon start dying. If you leave the flowers to grow and they pollinate, the polka dots will produce seeds.
Polkas produce seeds to secure the next generation. After producing seeds, your polka dots will get brown or yellow leaves, especially when winter approaches. This means that they have completed their lifecycle.
All good things come to an end. When the plant has completed its life cycle, it will die. Some ways to tell that your polka dot plants are old enough to die are:
- Leaves turning brown or yellow even if you are growing the plants in the right condition.
- The plant stops producing new leaves and its growth is halted.
- The plant becomes more prone to pest attacks.
All these will naturally come after your polkas flower and produce seeds. If you feel that they are occurring too suddenly, check the growing conditions of the plants.
Why Do Polka Dot Plants Have a Short Lifespan?
Polka dot plants have a short lifespan because they are annuals just like similar plants. As annual plants, they do not live for more than one year, especially when the growing conditions are not favorable after they have already matured.
– Temperature Changes
Temperature is a factor that controls almost every process in plants. This is why plants start growing, flowering, or even producing fruits only when the temperature is right for that particular stage. The drop in temperature, especially after flowering, is a sign of winter and also means that the growing cycle of your polka dot plants is complete.
After successful pollination, polka dot plants produce seeds after flowering. This means that life can go on as the next generation of plants is secure. Therefore, the plant starts to die or go into dormancy as the temperature reduces. The plant may wake up in the next growing circle or not depending on how low the temperature went.
– They Spend All Their Energy on Producing Flowers and Seeds
Plants spend a lot of energy on flowers and seeds. Plants spend so much energy on flowers and seeds because they only send (without receiving) nutrients and energy back from the flowers or seeds. When growing leaves, the leaves start to photosynthesize in less than a day, so the energy used to grow a leaf is surely returned to the plant.
However, flowers and seeds consume both energy and nutrients without giving them back to the plant. This is why a lot of plants die of nutrient deficiency when they start flowering. So long as a plant pollinated successfully, it will happily spend as much energy and nutrients to produce the seeds so that the next generation can be secured.
– Lack of Proper Care
As winter approaches, the temperature continues to drop. This means that you need to follow a proper care guide for your polka dots if you want them to survive. Leaving the plants just as they are can lead to their deaths that could have been avoided. Some ways through which you could have cared for your polka dot plants are maintaining their recommended light exposure, temperature, and humidity levels.
In terms of light exposure, polka dot plants need sunlight, so if they do not get it, especially when the other growing conditions are not favorable, they will die quickly. As for temperature and humidity, remember that the temperature and humidity indoors are higher than the outdoor levels. This means that leaving your plants outside can kill them.
– They Are Just Like Some Other Plants
It does not matter how you want to look at it, plants need to complete their life cycle just as people and animals do. Some plants live and die within a year while others live for so many years.
Polka dots plants, just like some other plants, are tender perennials, which means that when growing in their natural habitats, they live as perennials but live as annuals when growing in other places.
Growing polka dot plants is easier for you, as you now know the best conditions for the plant as well as what to expect at each stage of your plant’s growth. Remember the following points about polkas and their lifespan:
- Polka dot plants are tender perennials, meaning that they can be annuals or perennials depending on where they are growing.
- You can extend your polka dot lifespan by pruning their flowers, growing them in warm places, and overwintering your outdoor plants indoors.
- Ensure that your polka dot plant’s soil is never dry so that the plants can continue to get moisture in their roots.
- Never abandon your polka dot plants. Always care for them so that they can grow for a significantly longer time.
- Before your polka dots start dying, propagate them with either their seeds or stem cuttings so that you can continue to grow these beautiful plants.
Now that you have improved your polka dot plant care techniques, we hope that you can extend the lifespan of your plants.